The Passion of Christ – Part One – Mark 9:1-50

 

We now enter into the final of four sections in the Gospel of Mark. We have seen The Pronouncement of the Person and Passion of Christ in Mark 1:1. We considered The Preparation of the Christ in Mark 1:2-13. We just completed the section entitled The Person of Christ in Mark 1:14-8:38. Our fourth and final section of Mark is The Passion of Christ which covers Mark 8:31-16:20.

In our previous study we covered Mark 8:31-38 which is a transitional section in this Gospel. This section marks the midway point in the gospel of Mark and just as it is literarily at the center of the gospel it is central in the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The most important verse to take note of in this transitional section is  Mark 8:31 which states:

·         Mark 8:31 – “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” [1]

This verse marks a transition in the ministry of Jesus. He now begins to focus on the purpose for which He came, the purpose of the incarnation, His passion.

When we speak of “passion” we are thinking of the sacrificial substitutionary atoning crucifixion of Jesus and the resurrection which is the Father’s stamp of approval on the work of His only Son Jesus. When Jesus victoriously rises from the dead after being crucified, the Father is making a statement. He is saying His only Son Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies His just and holy requirement to make a way to resolve sin, to make a way to redeem sinful humanity.

Mark 8:31 is the first direct teaching of Jesus about this passionate purpose. In Mark 8:32-33 when Peter attempts to deter Jesus from pressing on with His passion, Jesus rebukes Peter openly and points out that any thought of a cross-less mission or passion is satanic and not in accord with God’s plan. At the end of Mark 8 in verses 34-38 Jesus calls His followers to be disciples and abide in His passion. To do so requires they deny self, take up their cross (i.e. carry with them the humbling awareness that they deserve to die and should act redemptively to save the lost like Jesus does) and lastly to follow Jesus, to follow in His pattern and steps.

After these transitional verses of Mark 8 (i.e. Mark 8:31-38) we now enter into the passion of Jesus. From this point on in the gospel of Mark we will see aspects or parts of the passion of Christ. It should be mentioned that you cannot separate the Person of Jesus from His passion and visa versa. As we study the parts of His passion, we will continue to learn more and more of who Jesus is and His person. Let’s press on to an understanding of the Person of Jesus through the passion of Jesus.

The Passion of Christ Flows From the Love of God The Transfiguration

Mark 9:1-13 – “And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” 2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.7 And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”8 Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”12 Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?13 “But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.”       

The first thing we will see about the passion of Jesus is that it flows from the love of God. This is conveyed in the historical account of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration pulls back the curtain further on the Person of Jesus and shows us a glimpse of His pre-incarnate state. It also shows us the love between God the Father and His only Son Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity.

The Passionate Love of God

At the center of he Transfiguration event is the expression of God’s love for His Son Jesus. There  is an important reason why God verbalized His love for His only Son Jesus in this way. He wants us to know that the passion of Christ is fueled by the love of God. Before we continue on into this section on the passion of Jesus we need to note a few things about the nature of God. The passion of Christ is the product of God’s passionate love.

First, God’s love is great. That is why it is so passionate. The apostle John is known as the apostle of love because he wrote so greatly about the love of God In his first epistle he stated:

·         1 John 4:8  – “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” [2]

“God is love,” that is an awesome concept but it remains an abstract that is perhaps difficult to grasp. God’s love is not a mere abstraction or fantasy, it is real and it is actively practical.

Second, Jesus is the primary object of the love of God.  In his gospel account John recorded the following about the Father’s love for His only Son Jesus:

·         John 15:9-10 - “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  [3]

·         John 17:26 – “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” [4]

The Father loves the Son. This love is eternal since the Father and Son are eternal. Like children watching love expressed by their parents, we can be blessed by the love the Father has for the Son Jesus. But God’s love is not stagnant or stationary, it is active and practical as the next point shows .

Third, God’s love is passionate and knows no limits. That God loved Jesus His only Son and yet was willing to sacrifice Him for the sake of saving us and appeasing His just and holy requirements, shows us the limitless nature of God’s love. The giving of Jesus for our salvation is God’s great demonstration and revelation of His love to us. The scriptures testify to God’s great love when they state:

·         John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [5]

·         Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [6]

·         Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”  [7]

When you think about Gods’ great love for us and the extent to which His love is willing to go to save us so we can spend eternity with Him, it simply is too wonderful to comprehend at times. But by the Holy Spirit we can comprehend God’s love as well as experience it ourselves.

Fourth, we can experience the passion of God’s love in us. That’s an incredible thought, but its true. When a person repents trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord and is born again, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us and brings the love of God to bear in us. Read the following scriptures that testify to this truth:

·         Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  [8]

·         1 John 4:9-12 – “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”  [9]

·         Jude 21 – “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” [10]

We can experience God’s love in us by the work of the Holy Spirit. Love is the primary fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believe (Galatians 5:22-25). The love of God in us moves us to press on and serve those around us in a Christ- like way (1 Corinthians 13).

As we study this last section in Mark on the passion of Christ, we need to remember the motivating force behind His passion; it is the love of God. That is the same thing that is to motivate us in all we do. This is expressed by Paul when he is inspired to write:

·         2 Corinthians 5:14-21 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [11]

If we are to learn anything from our study of the passion of Jesus Christ, it is that His love must be our motive and compelling force in all we do in life. Is that true of you?

MARK THAT ACTION: God declared His love for Jesus at the Transfiguration revealing to us that the passion of Christ is rooted in and fueled by the love of God. We ought to be compelled fueled in all we do by the love of God, the compelling love of God.

Peter, James and John

 

Mark 9:2 -  “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them”  [12]

 

This was not the first or the last time Jesus would take these three disciples aside with Him. When Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter form the dead He took Peter, James and John with Him (Mark 5:37; Matthew 9:18-26). When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane He took Peter, James and John with Him (Matthew 26:37). Why Peter, James and John? Perhaps because they would all eventually encounter severe trials unto death in future ministry. Tradition tells us that James was sawn in two lengthwise, Peter was crucified upside down (because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified right-side up like Jesus), and John was boiled in a cauldron of oil, miraculously survived and was then banished to the barren Isle of Patmos. For whatever reason Jesus chose to take these particular three disciples with Him, it seems clear that He was preparing them for ministry. Jesus always prepares us for the part He has for us in His ministry plans. Jesus is preparing you right now for the ministry He is calling you to do. That is how we should approach this portion of Scripture, like Jesus is going to use it to prepare us for ministry. You see God doesn’t just simply move us from point “A” to point “B” in our lives, He is totally efficient in that the journey from point “A” to point “B” prepares us, matures us, for His final purpose and destination. The journey is just as important as the destination. The means are just as important as the ends in god’s plan.

 

The traditional site of the Transfiguration is Mount Tabor located in the central portion of Israel but this is not likely the most likely spot of the Transfiguration. The “high mountain,” Jesus took the three with Him to was probably Mount Hermon. The Mount Hermon view is based on the fact that Caesarea Philippi is located at the base of Mount Hermon which is the tallest mountain in the area standing at approximately 9,000 feet in elevation. But where the Transfiguration took place is not nearly as important as the fact that it did take place and that it is a tremendously important aspect of Jesus’ ministry and life.

 

The Transfiguration

 

Mark 9:2b-3 – “and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”  [13]

 

That this was an other worldly experience, a brief intrusion of the Divine dimension into the earthly dimension is seen by the inspired words, “as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” Something supernatural happened at the Transfiguration and under the inspiration of the Spirit, Mark wants us to know that.

 

The word “transfigured,” is translated from the Greek term METEMORPHOTHE which is a form of the Greek term METAMORPHOO (Strong’s #3339) which means, “to change, transform, transfigure.” The English word metamorphosis is derived from this same Greek term.

 

We need to pause a moment and ask, “Did this change make Jesus less than God I some way?” Far from it! What the Transfiguration communicates to us in one of the most incredible aspects of God who is infinite and His revelation of Himself to finite humanity. The Transfiguration is an evidence of this awesome truth. Spiros Zodhiates makes the following comment on what it meant for Jesus to become a Man:

 

This eternal, infinite Word became flesh [John 1:14]. Now flesh is finite. Therefore what we have here is a statement that the Infinite became finite. And this from the very outset poses for our finite minds the greatest mystery that we could ever face . . . there are far more things that we do not understand than those we do.

 

Can any mortal understand how the Infinite can become finite? No, of course not. But . . . if you and I deny the Infinite the power of making His appearance in human from within the limitations of time and space we deprive Him of the main characteristic of His infinity, omnipotence. [14]

 

When it states that Jesus was “transfigured,” it points to the veil being drawn back on the infinite nature of Jesus so that we can catch a glimpse of Jesus glorified state. Jesus is seen here in a way the disciples hadn’t seen Him before. Jesus is in a glorified state from all eternity and here we are given a glimpse of that state.

 

Another place where reference is made to this is when Jesus in His high priestly prayer alludes to this when He said:

 

  • John 17:5 - “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”  [15]

 

Jesus put that glorified appearance aside when He was incarnated, (which does not diminish His deity in the least; God is Spirit and Jesus never laid aside His spiritual essence of being, He only added bodily humanity to Himself), as Paul is inspired to explain when he writes:

 

  • Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   [16]

 

Therefore, when the disciples saw Jesus in His transfigured state, they were seeing Him in His eternal glorified state for a moment in their life.

 

In Luke’s gospel account it states that Jesus was transfigured while He was praying (Luke 9:29). The Transfiguration may have occurred at night since Luke also says the disciples were, “heavy with sleep” (Luke 9:32). If it occurred at night the contrast between His light and the world’s darkness would have been all the more explicit to the disciples.

 

Light on the Transfiguration

 

One of the prominent impressions of the Transfigurations is light, not actually mentioned by word, but certainly implied by the inspired descriptions of the event.  What did the transfigured light mean? That Jesus’ “clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow” is significant. Light is a symbol of purity, revelation, truth, and life. We see this in the following passages which describe Jesus’ pre-incarnate state:

 

  • John 1:1-14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  [17]

 

  • John 12:45 - “And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  [18]

 

  • 1 John 1:5-7 –“ This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  [19]

 

Again a comment by Spiros Zodhaites helps us to shed light on what Jesus coming to earth in bodily form entailed:

 

The Logos [i.e. The Word; Jesus – John 1:14] became “flesh.” The immaterial Logos takes on matter, flesh. He who was previously invisible to our physical eyes can now be seen. In His flesh Jesus Christ becomes the Exegete of the invisible God, bringing Him out of His hiding place, so to speak. Here is the evidence of God’s interest in man, so plainly presented that no one may have an excuse for not knowing. . . . The Logos became fully man. Not simply “a” man, for He was not merely human. He was the only perfect man that ever existed, for before  He became man He was God. And He never ceased to be that, even after He became man. . . .Therefore the infinite and eternal Logos became the finite and temporal Jesus of Nazareth without ever ceasing to be the eternal Logos.  . . . It was not simply a process of putting on something that He did not have before, but it was creating for Himself that which He was not before. . . . He became that which you and I are, but in a different manner and without sin. He was existent before He became flesh. He who created everything in the first creation could create Himself a body like ours without sin. . . . [20]

 

This all may come off as heady stuff to you, but there are some awesome truths to be gleaned from the account of the Transfiguration. What light was God trying to shine in the lives of the disciples and to us on that mountain? Let’s study on.

 

The Transfiguration Turns on the light

 

Mark 9:1 – “And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” [21]

A significant word used by Jesus in Mark 9:1 (Matthew 16:28) is the term “see,” (“will not taste death till they see . . .”) used by Jesus. The word “see” is translated form the Greek term IDOSIN which is a form of the Greek word EIDO (Strong’s #1492). This word has a number of related meanings such as, “physical sight” (Matthew 2:2,9; John 1:47; Acts 3:3); “to perceive; to realize; understand” (Matthew 2:16; Mark 7:2); or “to experience” (Luke 2:26; 1 Peter 3:10). Furthermore, the grammatical form of the Greek term IDOSIN (2nd Aorist/Active/Subjunctive) indicates the possibility of the disciples perceiving, realizing or understanding something. Therefore, the sense of Jesus words in Mark 9:1 (Matthew 16:28) are that the disciples would be given an opportunity to perceive, understand, realize, learn something in particular about Jesus before they died .In effect what Jesus is saying is that before the disciples die, He will turn on the light in them that reveals who He is.  The Transfiguration turns on the light. Now just what can be learned from the Transfiguration? What is the truth to be perceived in this great event?  What light is turned on?

 

Four Truths of the Transfiguration

 

There are four truths that we can glean from the events surrounding the Transfiguration of Jesus recorded in Mark 9 (Matthew 17). There are seven truths that pour forth down the Mount of Transfiguration to enrich every aspect of our lives. There are seven truths of the Transfiguration that turn the light on within each of us. Indeed, if taken to heart, these seven truths of the Transfiguration can transform and transfigure us. What are these transfiguring truths? Let’s see.

 

First, the Transfiguration Transcends Human Opinion.

 

Mark 9:1 (Matthew 16:28) – And He said to them,  “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will  not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”   [22]

 

Some liberal scholars, (mostly based on Matthew’s account)  have interpreted this verse as referring to the 2nd Coming of Jesus and since the disciples He spoke these words to died before Jesus’ 2nd Coming then Jesus is depicted as wrong and therefore fallible. But a little further study confirms that Jesus didn’t have His 2nd Coming in mind here.

 

That this verse refers to the Transfiguration is also supported by Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:16-21 where he relates the Transfiguration to “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” just as in Matthew 16:28 Jesus says that the disciples would not die before they, “see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” 

 

  • 2 Peter 1:16-21 – “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  [23]

These verses offer to us insight into how Peter and the other apostles viewed the Transfiguration. They viewed Jesus transfiguration as a glorification (2 Peter 1:17). They viewed it as having a confirming effect on their message, and in particular, the confession by Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God made just six days before (2 Peter 2:18-19; Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29). They viewed the Transfiguration as “light that shines in a dark place,” and a dawning day and morning star that rises in one’s heart (2 Peter 1:19). Not everyone has the light of Jesus shinning in his or her hearts. People without Christ are living in darkness and need the light of Jesus to show them the way to eternal life.

 

The Transfiguration took the gospel message out of the realm of opinion and put it into the realm of definite and sure revelation from God (2 Peter 1:20). The transfiguring of Jesus and the audible word from the Father in heaven removed the gospel message out of the realm of mere human opinion into the realm of inspired revelation from God. There are as many opinions about things as there are people. Opinions are based on, “the will of man,” (2 Peter 1:21) and not worth that much. Some people rely on human tradition as a supplement to the 66 inspired books of the Word of God, but to do so is to delve into the realm of human opinion. Opinion and tradition that are not backed up by the Word of God or worse, go against God’s Word, are weak and like building on sand (see Matthew 7:24-27; Mark 7; Colossians 2:8-10).

 

An example of what happens when human opinion reigns as lord is found in the actions of the Jesus Seminar, (a group of 70 or so liberal scholars who meet once a year for about a week to determine by vote which portions of the gospels were actually from Jesus and which were not) These “scholars” view the gospel accounts as apostolic opinion inserted into the mouth of Jesus. Such a view has resulted in such ridiculous assertions as that the only part of the Lord’s Prayer that is authentically from Jesus are the words, “Our Father.” The Jesus Seminar only views a very small percentage of the gospels as coming from Jesus and the vast majority of the text as coming from others who put words into Jesus’ mouth according to their opinion.  Now if the Scripture were simply a matter of opinion, the Jesus Seminar would be entitled to their opinion. But statements backed up by the facts of eyewitness accounts, such as the gospels, the New Testament and the Old Testament, are far more than mere opinion, they are weighty and reliable records. This is especially true when we factor in the preponderance of manuscript, archeological, and prophetic evidence. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and inerrant, it is totally reliable and authentically God’s Word.  The Transfiguration, (God’s spoken affirmation of His Son Jesus Christ), is therefore a confirmation of God’s truth.

 

Second, the Transfiguration Depicts  Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.

 

Mark 9:4-6 (Matthew 17:3-4) – “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were  talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah – because he did not know what to way, for they were greatly afraid.”  [24]

 

This must have been a pretty shocking experience for these three disciples. They were “greatly afraid.” But nevertheless, overcoming his fears, Peter knew it was good for he and the two other disciples to be up on that mountain with Jesus. Now even Moses and Elijah showed up. The Spirit must have informed Peter of the identity of Moses and Elijah, much the same as He had informed Peter of who Jesus was (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16-17). But why Moses and Elijah? Probably because Moses is closely associated with the Law of God and Elijah is the most prominent representative prophetic figure. By Moses and Elijah showing up here we are given a picture of the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament leading us to Jesus. In the Emmaus road encounter between the risen Jesus and two disciples Jesus warms the hearts of the disciples by explaining how the Law and prophets pointed to Him (Luke 24:13-27).

 

The Transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament who fulfilled over 300 prophesies. Jesus is superior to the Law and prophets in that He is the aim of them. Jesus is the culmination of what the Law and prophets existed to proclaim. Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law:

 

·         Matthew 5:17-20 –“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”  [25]

 

The writer of Hebrews captured this truth when he was inspired to write:

 

·         Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”   [26]

 

Jesus is not only superior to the Law and prophets; He is the fulfillment of them. Jesus completes God’s revelation. In fact, Jesus is the fullness of God, to see Him is to see the Father. (John 10:30; 14:7,9; Colossians 1:15-20). Jesus is the full revelation of God, He is God.

 

Third, the Transfiguration Points to Jesus the Beloved Son of God Who we Need to Listen to

 

Mark 9:7 (Matthew 17:5-6) – “And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” [27]

 

The Father had confirmed His approval on Jesus in the beginning of His ministry when He was obediently baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:17). Now towards the climax of Jesus ministry He again asserts His love for and approval of Jesus. By God the Father stating that He was pleased with Jesus showed that Jesus’ ministry was acceptable to Him as the soon to be sacrifice for the sins of humankind on the cross.

 

“Hear Him!”

 

The word, “hear,” in the text is translated from the Greek term AKOUO (Strong’s #191) and means, “to perceive by the ear what is announced in one’s presence.” [28] While Jesus spoke of a visual perception and understanding in Mark 9:1, the Father speaks of a perception of hearing. Furthermore, the grammatical form of this term (Present/Active/Imperative) is imperative and, “expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding.”  [29] The authority here is the Father in heaven. Therefore, the Father from heaven is commanding in full authority the disciples to “Listen up, listen to My Son Jesus!” This is a statement of strong authority, a command, a mandatory statement by God to the hearers and to us the readers.

 

When God uses an exclamation point saying, “Hear Him!” we had better hear Him. To hear Him is to obey Him. Read what the writer of Hebrews was inspired to write:

 

  • Hebrews 12:25-29 – “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29For our God is a consuming fire.” [30] (see also Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:9)

 

When God speaks, we need to listen. When God shouts, we’d be fools not to listen.

 

The Bible tells us that God makes every effort to win the lost. There is a beautiful illustration of this in the Old Testament. Amnon, one of David’s sons, had forced himself sexually upon Tamar, a daughter of David. David did not deal with the situation adequately and his son Absalom took matters into his own hands and murdered Amnon in retribution. Absalom then fled and a rift between he and his father David was set in place. Joab, David’s right hand man, then diplomatically sent a messenger to speak with David about reconciling with his son (2 Samuel 12-14). In the course of the conversation with David, the following words are spoken: 

 

·         2 Samuel 14:14b – “Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” [31]

 

David was exhorted to follow the example of God Who makes every effort to shine His light of salvation into the lives of the lost. Light is pervasive in nature and the gracious light of God’s truth in His Son Jesus Christ spreads to the entire world. All one needs do to be saved is, let God turn on the light of salvation. Open the shades to the window of your heart and let God’s light shine in.

 

Fourth, the Transfiguration Reveals Jesus Is Transcendent Yet Approachable

 

Mark 9:8-13 – “Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”12 Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?13 “But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him.”

Jesus was exalted and glorified as the perfect sinless Man, He was shinning as the sun, but yet, He could be reached and approached. Jesus is transcendent yet approachable  but He is not a glory seeker. In fact He repeatedly instructed his disciples and others to not tell people about Him (Mark 9:9; Matthew 8:4; 9:30; 12:16; 16:20; and 17:9). Even though the disciples had just seen Jesus transfigured, they felt comfortable and welcome to ask Him to explain things to them.

 

The Bible tells us that Jesus is approachable and empathetic to people. The Bible states:

 

  • Hebrews 4:14-16 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  [32]

 

Jesus empathizes with our weaknesses. He came and experienced them first hand. He was tempted, but did not sin. Jesus is awesomely exalted, but He is nevertheless approachable.

 

Our Incredible God of Love

 

When we begin to comprehend the nature of God, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His eternality, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and all things, then we come to see that from His high holy sovereign position He initiated contact and the plan of salvation with lost sinful humanity, it moves us to adore Him all the more for His magnificent majesty and love.

 

To think that God in all His holy splendor has a love that moves Him to reach down to obscure humanity amplifies infinitesimally His goodness and holiness. The Transfiguration is God’s revelation to us of this great truth. The Transfiguration should blow us away in every way. God is just so awesome and incredible. There are no adequate adjectives that we could string together to describe God, though the apostle Paul sought to do so under the inspiration of the Spirit when He wrought:

 

  • Romans 11:33-36 – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him  And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:17 – “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Let those inspired words by a song in our hearts and a prayer of praise on our lips.

 

John the Baptist and Elijah

 

The disciples asked Jesus about John the Baptist. The scribes rightly interpreted the Bible that Elijah would precede the coming of Messiah as stated in Malachi 4:5. Jesus taught them that John the Baptist was Elijah in some way. But John the Baptist said he was not Elijah when asked (John 1:21). How can this apparent contradiction be solved? Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following clarifying remarks about this issue:

 

When John the Baptist began his ministry, there was a question as to whom he was claiming to be. He was baptizing down at the Jordan River and hundreds of people were coming to be baptized and to hear him. And the Pharisees came out from Jerusalem to inquire, Who are you? By what authority are you doing these things? And they said, Are you the Messiah? He said no. They said, Are you Elijah? He said no. Then who are you? I’m the voice of one crying in the wilderness. But he denied being Elijah. Now the angels said he would go in the spirit and in the power of Elijah. When they said, Are you Elijah? He said no; no in the sense that he isn’t the complete fulfillment of that prophecy of Micah. And Jesus is here affirming Elijah shall first come. However, He has really already come but they did to him what they would, they put him to death even as they’re going to put Me to death. So even as Jesus is coming again to establish God’s kingdom upon the earth, before He comes again, Elijah will appear. This Old Testament prophet will appear and will minister to turn the hearts of the people back to God.[33]

 

John the Baptist came as a type of Elijah to prepare the way for Messiah Jesus. Elijah will come again during the Tribulation period and will evangelize the Jews during this prophetic period (see Revelation 11).

 

MARK THAT ACTION:  The Transfiguration of Jesus shows us that He is eternal God and as such we ought to praise and worship Him for His loving passion to save us.

 

Now we move on in the context of the passage to see more particulars of the passion of Jesus.

 

Jesus’ Passion Involved Liberating Those in bondage to Demonic Forces

 

Mark 9:14-29  – “And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them.15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him.16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.18 “And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.22 “And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.”27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

 

There are a few things to take note of here.

 

First, don’t’ let your guard down after a victory or meaningful  time with the Lord. Notice that as soon as they stepped down from the mountain they were confronted by a satanically induced problem. Satan will try to rob you of the effects of your time alone with the Lord on the mountaintop (Mark 9:25). We need to guard against being surprised or blindsided by the enemy when we return from retreats or times alone with the Lord. If Satan can’t interrupt your quiet time with God, he’ll try to blast its glorious effect out of your memory as soon as he can.

 

Second, never give up. Even though the disciples below could not help the man and his demon-possessed boy, he did not give up, he was persistent (Mark 9:18-20). When we hit a roadblock we need to be persistently seeking God’s help like this father did for his son.

 

Third, Jesus has complete power over Satan and his minions (Mark 9:25-26). Jesus had no problem healing the boy possessed by a demon. Jesus is us is greater than any one else who comes against us (1 John 4:4; James 4:7; Romans 16:20).  

 

Fourth, when we lack faith to get the job done, we can go to Jesus for the faith we need (Mark 9:23-24). Jesus points out the issue is one of believing.   The point is not so much that a little bit of faith can do great things; it is more that, when we lack faith, we can go to Jesus to find the faith we need.  

 

Fifth, be consistent and ready for action, don’t get caught unprepared. Jesus tells the disciples that “prayer and fasting” are needed in such cases (Mark 9:28-29). The point to note here is that they weren’t ready for the task at hand; they couldn’t stop and fast on the spot. Fasting and praying is something that needs to be ongoing. They weren’t ready for the task because they didn’t have an ongoing faith. Prayer connects us to God; fasting disconnects us from ourselves. These are two things the disciple should practice on a regular basis.

 

Jesus’ Passion Persisted in His Mission of the Cross

 

Mark 9:30-32 (Matthew 17:22-23) – “Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.”

 

Jesus repeatedly spoke of His mission to go to the cross (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34; 14:21; Matthew 16:21; 17:12,22-23; 20:17-19, 28: 26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:12, 30-32; 10:32-34). Jesus never lost sight of His mission, His passion. The reason He was transfigured was to show He was an acceptable representative sacrificial man. Having shown that, He now moved on in the mission of His passion.

 

The disciples still did not fully understand the substance of Jesus’ passion. They were likely sorrowful about this repeated statement by Jesus because they only looked at it in terms of what they thought they would lose, that is, Jesus. But by going to the cross the disciples would gain Jesus in a far deeper and fulfilling way than ever before, Jesus would be their Savior. They didn’t quite grasp that truth as yet, but they eventually would.

 

Jesus passion was to save the world, to defeat Satan and give life to those lost in sin. Read this in the following verses:

 

  • Matthew 9:12-13 – “When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [34]

 

  • 1 Timothy 1:15-17 – “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”  [35]

 

  • Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”   [36]

 

  • 1 John 3:8 – “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”   [37]

 

Jesus never lost sight of His mission. Jesus had the cross ever before Him. He clearly and repeatedly made the point to His disciples that He MUST  go to the cross to accomplish His mission and purpose. The cross is the key to shinning God’s transfiguring light of salvation on the lost world.

 

MARK THAT ACTION:  Jesus has a passion to save the lost, we should too.

 

 

Jesus’ Passion was Pursued in Humility

 

Mark 9:33-37 – “Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” 

The house” referred to here is probably Peter’s house. Here we see the omniscience of Jesus in that the disciples never admitted to what they were fighting about, but Jesus knew it anyway. You can’t hide anything from Jesus.

 

The disciples were arguing over who was the greatest amongst them. Jesus felt it necessary therefore, to at this point teach them about greatness. His definition of greatness is diametrically opposed to the world’s standard of greatness.

 

Even though Peter, James and John had seen the Lord transfigured, (and had undoubtedly shared their experience with the other disciples), and even though they had seen Jesus perform countless miracles, teach with a unique authority and speak of His mission; even though the disciples saw all of this, they were still consumed by their fleshly, self-centered, self-serving, proud  attitudes.

 

Perhaps when Peter, James and John had shared what they saw with the other disciples who had been left at the foot of the mountain, the ones left below became angry and jealous. But I can also imagine that Peter, (especially Peter) did not share what he had seen in a very humble way either. Can’t you just see him saying, “Ahem, well, let me tell you guys who were left below what we who ascended on high with the Master, what we saw.” There were no innocent parties in this dispute that opens chapter eighteen.

 

It’s no accident that Jesus responds to the disciples’ question by calling over a little child to make His point. Jesus tells the disciples that children are the greatest. There are certain qualities that children have that every disciple should have. But there are also certain things that children have that no disciple should have. In Matthew eighteen Jesus is teaching that we should be like a child, but not childish.

 

Great Like a Little Child

 

Why did Jesus choose a little child to illustrate who the greatest would be in His kingdom? Probably because of the nature of children. Children demonstrate natural qualities in their early stages of development that are qualities the disciple needs to have in order to be a disciple useable to God. What are these qualities?

 

Children are sincere. Ever see a child try to tell a lie, they just can’t hide their feelings. Children have not learned to hide their feelings like adults have, they where their feelings out in the open. Children don’t cover up things, they can’t cover up things, and it’s not in their nature, yet. Children are honest. My children have loved Jesus from a very young age. Jesus is the Head of our home and family. To them, to talk about Jesus was second nature. That created some interesting situations when guests came over. No matter who the people were who came over to our home, our kids would go up to them, climb on their lap and it wouldn’t be long before they asked, “Do you have Jesus in your heart?” The Spirit used our children on a number of occasions in such ways. Children are sincere, they’re honest, and we should be too.

 

Children are sensitive. Children know when you’re upset with them. You can try to hide your feelings, but they can see what you say in your countenance. Children are perceptive. If I get discouraged around my kids, I may try to hide it, but they see it and usually try to cheer me up. That’s the way kids are. In the same way we should cultivate a similar sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and be perceptive to His leadings.

 

Children are simple. Things are pretty much black and white for kids. A kindergarten class went on a field trip to their local post office. Once there they were given a tour and the postmaster showed the children the area of the post office where the FBI’s 10 most wanted felon’s list was. One of the children stared at the photos and then turned to the post master and asked, “Those are criminals right?” The postmaster said they were. “They’re bad guys, right?” “Yes,” said the postmaster. “Then why didn’t you just keep them when you took their pictures?” the child said. Children are simple, they see things simply. In the same way we should stay true to the simplicity of Jesus and His gospel message, rather than seeking to complicate things with human opinion and traditions (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Colossians 2:8-9).

 

Now to be sincere, sensitive and simple as a child does not mean to be childish and we will discuss this later, but we should adopt childlike qualities to be great in the kingdom of heaven.

 

The psalmist brings this out when he writes:

 

  • Psalm 131:1-3 – “1 Lord, my heart is not haughty, Nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me.2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.”  [38]

A “weaned child,” is not an infant screaming for milk or something else. A weaned child is a child who is growing to trust and know his or her parents. That’s how we should be. [39]

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus instructs us that true greatness is illustrated in the sincerity, sensitivity and simplicity of a child. We ought to sincerely follow Jesus, be sensitive to His Holy Spirit, and follow the simple gospel. 

Children Teach Us to Depend On Jesus and Receive Him

 

Mark 9:37 - Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

Children are vulnerable and dependent on others. In the same way, we need to be open and vulnerable to Jesus and depend on Him. To receive Jesus is to receive Him like a child, in humble dependence, not pride. Some people come to Jesus as though they were doing Him a favor.  Some come to Jesus and think they are greater because of what they have left behind or given up to follow Jesus. Let me clue you in on something, Jesus already owns all that we are and have, we have been bought by Him with His precious blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

 

Jesus and salvation cannot be earned or worked for by giving up a bunch of stuff, Jesus and salvation can only be received. John wrote:

 

  • John 1:12-13 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [40]

Children are the greatest; they teach us that we need to be humble; dependent on Him and that we need to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

 

MARK THAT ACTION:  Jesus tells us that to receive Him like a child, that is, to humble and dependently receive Him and depend on Him. 

 

Jesus’ Passion Involved Uniting the Brethren

 

Mark 9:38-41 – “Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.40 “For he who is not against us is on our side.41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” 

Notice that the disciples come to Jesus asking about “someone who does not follow us” but who  Jesus says, “works a miracle in My name.” The idea here is not that Jesus is condoning people of other religions,  but other disciples of Jesus who perhaps were not in the immediate group of the Twelve. Jesus said, “For he who is not against us is on our side.” Jesus defines those who are “on our side,” as those ministering “in My name” (9:39,41). The disciples were concerned with proper authorization and Jesus instructed them to trust in God’s oversight of other Christian groups.

 

Here we see the graciousness of Jesus and that He would have us avoid sectarianism. Too often we allow secondary differences in doctrine and style separate us form our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus died in part to unite us in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). We are not to be so bent on unity that we tolerate false teaching (2 John 10-11; Jude 3-4). But we are to make every effort to unite with those who hold the foundational doctrinal truths of the Bible (e.g. Salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus only, not works). We should keep in mind Jesus words in the parable of the Tares and the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). If at all possible we should welcome brethren of other churches with open arms and holy hugs of loving fellowship. That is the passion of Jesus.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus had a passion for uniting the brethren, we should too.

 

Jesus’ Passion Involved Warning People About Hell

 

Mark 9:42-50 - “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.43 “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—44 “where 1 ‘Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’45 “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—46 “where ‘Their worm does not die,And the fire is not quenched.’47 “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—48 “where ‘Their worm does not die,  And the fire is not quenched.’ 49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.50 “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” [41]

 

Jesus was very protective of children, of the innocent and vulnerable, especially those who “believe in Me.” He makes His point of the preciousness of children by warning about the penalty and consequence waiting for those who might harm children. These are sobering words and every pedophile and child abuser should spend some time, some serious study time in going over these verses. Jesus says it would be better for those who harm children if they put a millstone around their neck. A millstone is a large, thick round, wheel-like stone used to grind wheat and other things into powder. It was big and it was heavy. To tie a millstone around your neck and throw it into the sea was like saying, “Go drown yourself.”

 

What does this passage warn us about in regards to sin in our lives and hell?

 

First, be decisive and ruthless with sin and make every effort to rid yourself of anything that might lead you to hell. Jesus said it would be better to cut off your hand (9:43) or foot (9:45), or pluck out your eye (9:47) if it caused you to sin and go into the afterlife maimed, than to go to hell with both your hands (9:43). The point being made by Jesus is to deal ruthlessly with sin in your life, cut it off, and give it no quarter, no mercy, because if you do, it can lead you to hell. Hell is not a place you want to go.

 

People need to be decisive with Jesus. No decision is decision. The only way to cut sin out of your life is through faith in Christ. Jesus is not teaching some Islamic code of law where, (as is done even today in Islamic countries) a hand is cut off for stealing. No, Jesus is telling us we have to deal decisively with sin; we have to make a decision to rid out lives of sin. It is only through faith in Jesus that our sins can be decisively dealt with. It is through confession of sin and faith in Jesus that His blood is applied to cleanse away all our sin (1 John 1:7,9). It is through repentance and faith in Jesus that our sins are washed away (Acts 2:38). Once we put our faith in Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within us to do His holy work of cleansing us from sin and empowering us to decisively defeat sin in our lives (1 Corinthians 6:9-12; Titus 3:5). But the point here is you need to make a decision to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord. You can’t wash your sins away with good works; you can only be cleansed from your sin through the completed work of Jesus put to your account by grace through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:1-10).

 

We need to deal decisively with sin. Jesus’ words also speak to the permanence with which we should deal with sin. When a limb was cut off or an eye was plucked out in Jesus’ day, there was no possibility of reattachment or transplant. Today limbs can be reattached and organs such as eyes can be transplanted and that is how we often deal with sin today. We leave a door open to return to our sin. We keep the little black book of addresses so we can return to our former ways.  Jesus tells us we need to put our sinful ways behind us, permanently. When we deal with sin in our lives we should burn our bridges so we won’t revisit the sin. This may mean a change I lifestyle, associates, and a host of other things. You need to act decisively with sin. We have to have finality when we deal with sin in our lives.

 

How Can We Deal Decisively with Sin in Our Lives?

 

Jesus is speaking to disciples (Mark 9:30, 33,38). Does Jesus’ use of the consequence of hell insinuate that a disciple who has put faith in Jesus and following Him could still go to hell, that they could lose their salvation? There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Suffice it to say that if a disciple is a disciple they will be growing and dealing decisively with sin in their lives as they live on with the Lord. Losing their salvation is not an issue with the disciple who is pressing on with Jesus. Counterfeit disciples are the ones who have to worry about still going to hell. I think a discussion of this questions begs the issue and presses a theological issue, imposes it in a place where it does not belong. The important thing here is Jesus is telling His disciples to deal decisively, permanently with sin.

 

How Can We Deal Decisively with Sin in Our Lives? There are three things we need to do to deal decisively with our sin.

 

First, go to your own funeral. Bury the old man, the old way of life, the old attitudes, the old way of thinking and living. Bury your sin with Jesus. Paul was inspired to write about this when in Romans he wrote:

 

  • Romans 6:1-14 – “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Paul is speaking to those who have acknowledge their sin and lostness (Romans 3), have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin (Romans 4), and have been justified through faith in Christ by the grace of God (Romans 5). Now in Romans 6 he discusses what is supposed to happen in the new Christians life once they have been saved. They are not to go on sinning just because they can find perpetual forgiveness in God’s grace (Romans 6:2). Instead Paul says we are to go to our own funeral, we are to die to our old B.C. (i.e. Before Christ) ways (Romans 6:2-4). Now we are to live the resurrection life, newness of life, a new way of life (Romans 6:5-6). Through our death in Christ we are no longer in bondage to sin but have been freed from it. We don’t have to feel guilty anymore or be motivated by guilt, no more fear of death (Romans 6:7-9). Now we live for God (Romans 6:10). Living for God means by faith we reckon ourselves by faith to be dead to our old sinful ways, and even our present temptations to sin (Romans 6:11). Sin no longer should reign in our lives, lusts should be subdued (though we will always be tempted to sin) (Romans 6:12). Now we present ourselves to God as instruments or tools of His righteous work and plan in life, we serve Him now not sin (Romans 6”13). If we do this by grace through faith, sin won’t dominate us (Romans 6:14).

Second, go to the Holy Spirit for help. Romans 7 tells us that if we try to bury our sins in our own strength, relying on ourselves or religious exercises alone, we will fail and only live a wretched life. The key is gong to the Spirit for help. Paul is inspired to write this:

  • Romans 8:13 – “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

To live in the “flesh” (Greek SARX) means to live selfishly, self-reliantly, self-centeredly. That leads to spiritual death. But rather we call on the Holy Spirit to help us he will enable us to kill off sin in our lives. Later in  Romans 8 Paul is inspired to say:

  • Romans 8:26a – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.”

On our own we are too weak to battle our own sinful nature and the temptations of the world and the devil. But in the Spirit, with His help, our weaknesses become strengths (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The Spirit will cleanse our hearts and empower us to live victoriously over sin in our lives (Acts 15:8-9; Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 5:18).

Thirdly, we need to make holy transactions. What do I mean by this? In Paul’s inspired letter to the Colossians he states the following:

  • Colossians 3:1-17 – “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

The Christian life is not only negatively killing off sin in your life, it is positively putting on holy attributes and attitudes. It is SERVING the Lord in accord with the name of the Lord, or according to the nature of Jesus in us. If you want to defeat sin in your life don’t only try to remove all the bad sinful stuff in your life (and sin is not bad because God prohibits it, it is prohibited by Him because it is bad for us), replace the old sinful ways with Spirit led and Spirit empowered service in the name of Jesus (i.e. Christ-like service). Put off the sin in your life; put on loving service to the Lord in its place. If you only try to put sinful things off, you’ll have a hole left over that sin will almost always dribble back to fill. But if you not only put off or remove sinful ways in your life, but then also replace them with holy Christ-like ways, service, ministry, there won’t be any place for the sin to return to. That’s how to deal decisively with sin in your life. Deal decisively with sin by crowding it out of your life with loving service to the Lord.

 

In an April 6th 2004 article in World Net Daily entitled Man Plucks Out His Own Eye, Quotes Bible the following account was given:

A murder suspect in Grayson County, Texas, quoted a Bible verse after using his hand to pluck out his own right eye.

According to the Sherman Herald Democrat, confessed killer Andre Thomas was in a county jail cell directly across from the book-in station Friday when he turned his back on the jail staff. After hearing a scream, personnel saw Thomas turn around with his eyeball in his hand.

Thomas is no stranger to mutilation. Police say he killed his wife, son and wife's daughter in the woman's apartment, mutilating each victim. According to the report, Thomas turned himself into police the day the bodies were discovered, having cut himself with a knife. After undergoing surgery, Thomas was transferred to the Grayson County Jail and placed on "suicide watch."

After the eye-plucking incident, the Democrat reports, jail staff rushed to Thomas' aid and brought him to the hospital.

Jail personnel say when they went to help Thomas, he quoted Mark 9:47, which states, "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell."

Thomas' attorneys have asked that he undergo a mental-health evaluation before his capital murder trial.

According to the report, Grayson County Attorney Joe Brown said the injury Thomas caused himself is not a clear-cut indication of mental illness. Brown said people do desperate things out of fear of punishment, as much as they do it out of insanity.

If convicted, Thomas could face the death penalty.[42]

This man was guilty of acting literally on a figurative statement of Jesus. The point hear is not to literally pluck your eye out, but to deal thoroughly, ruthlessly, completely, permanently with sin in your life. You want to eliminate anything that might cause you to stumble into hell. The best thing to do if you’re concerned about going to hell is to repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus as Savior. Cut off your old sinful lifestyle and turn to Jesus for liberation from your prison of sin (Ephesians 2:1-9). If you already know the Lord, make sure you burn your bridges, rely on the Holy Spirit, put off the old sinful ways and crowd them out of your life with loving service to our Lord Jesus.

 

Second, you don’t want to go to hell. The word translated “hell” here is GEHENNA in the original Greek language (Strong’s # 1067  gheh´-en-nah). GEHENNA is also known as the valley of Hinnom. This was an area outside the walls of Jerusalem that was a garbage dump. Where there is garbage there are worms and other critters. In order to eliminate the threat of disease and the smell, the garbage was incinerated with a perpetual fire. When Jesus used GEHENNA to illustrate hell, He was using a place of dark, rotten, smelly, fiery images. Hell is not a place you want to go. Some joke about not being afraid to go to hell because they think they will party with their friends there. Nothing could be further form the truth. Hell is a place of rotting, filth, darkness, loneliness and tormenting pain and suffering that goes on forever. That’s what Jesus meant when He repeated the phrase, “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (9:44,46,48).

 

Third , God makes every effort to turn people away from hell. Jesus says that “everyone will be seasoned with fire” (9:49). What He means by this is that God will even use trials in a person’s life to steer them away form the path to hell. God devises ways to save those headed for hell (2 Samuel 14:14b). He went so far as to send His priceless only Son Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of all humanity. That tells us the extent to which God will go to save a soul; he goes all the way. But Jesus adds, “if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it?” (9:50). In other words, if the providential trials God sends to get through to the lost go unheeded, the salt meant to purify and point us in the right direction are ineffective. Jesus says we ought to have salt in ourselves or that we should heed the Divine appointments and efforts to keep us out of hell.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus has a passion to keep as many people out of hell as possible; we should have that same passion for souls.

 

Conclusion

 

We have looked at the Transfiguration of Jesus, but there is another area of Scripture where the term transfigured or transformed, occurs. In Romans 12 it states:

 

·         Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  [43]

 

The word “transformed” in this passage is translated from the Greek term METAMORPHOO (Strong’s #3339). It is Gods’ objective in our lives to transform us. Into what would God transform us? Into the likeness of His beloved Son Jesus. Earlier in Romans Paul is inspired to write:

 

·         Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [44]

 

How can this transformation take place? First realize it is God who works in us (Philippians 2:13). Then realize the revealed truths of the Transfiguration that we have studied along with the other truths of Jesus’ passion, are truths that can transform us. The Spirit will take those truths and transform you into the likeness of Jesus. All you need do is receive the transcendent transfiguring light of God into your heart.

 

Clovis Chapman was a pioneer aviator and one of the first men to attempt a solo flight around the world. Clovis began his journey in the Midwest and made a brief stop in California. Shortly after taking off to resume his journey, he noticed a gnawing sound in the plane. Now these were the days when planes were held together with thin skin and rope cables-like cables. Listening intently Clovis came to realize that the gnawing he heard was the sound of rats in the cockpit gnawing at the control cables. Now these were the days before automatic pilots too so Clovis knew he was in quite a fix. If the rats kept gnawing at the cables, he’d loose control of the plane and his trip would be doomed.

 

Then Clovis Chapman had an idea. He pulled back on the throttle lifting the nose of the plan into the air and began ascending on high. He rose to 5,000 feet, then 10,000 feet. At 12,000 feet he listened and heard nothing. The gnawing had stopped. You see Clovis had remembered that rodents need a high proportion of oxygen so he took the plane up where the air was thin and the rats died.

 

That’s what we have to do when we’re being gnawed at by the rats of sin. We need to take our plane up to the mountain of Christ’s Transfiguration and let the rats die. The enemy can’t survive in the praise and worship of Transfiguration. We need to be transformed by Christ’s Transfiguration.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[2] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[3] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[4] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[5] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[6] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[7] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[8] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[9] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[10] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[11] The New King James Version. 1996, c1982. Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14] Zodhiates, Spirios, Was Christ God? (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers) 1998. pages 58,59

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20] Ibid. Zodhaites, p. 60-61

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[29]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8016 (Word For Today, Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628)

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Commentary – Matthew 14-28 (Tree of Life Commentary, Jacksonville, OR 1993). p. 105-106

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42] Reprinted with permission from WorldNetDaily.com, the Internet's largest independent full-service news website.

 

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.